Welcome to Eating From the Garden, nutrition and gardening curriculum for fourth- and fifth-grade students. Eating From the Garden provides research-based information through nutrition and gardening activities to increase consumption of fruits and vegetables, and promote healthier food choices, gardening knowledge and physical activity. Eating From the Garden is designed to be used in group settings like the school classroom, an after-school program or a community center program. It includes a variety of fun, in both the areas of nutrition and gardening. Each lesson contains learning objectives, core activities and supplies needed. Additional activities are included if you have more time to teach nutrition or gardening in your setting. Each lesson includes a newsletter for students to take home. Lessons have been cross-referenced with the Missouri Grade Level Expectations.
Eating From the Garden is designed to be taught biweekly in the spring and fall, and monthly during the winter months. The lessons are based on a one-hour class with additional activities for longer time periods. Weekly alternating nutrition and gardening lessons will allow for more time for fruit and vegetable preparations and additional activities in the garden.
To match school schedules, one garden is planted in the fall and one in the spring. The garden is cleaned and put to bed after each harvest. Teachers are encouraged to coordinate their students in the garden cleanup and distribute extra produce as desired. Options may be to include produce in school lunches, send home for family preparation or donate to a food pantry, etc.
If summer school or summer activities are available at the site and the director or a volunteer wants to continue gardening during the summer, more vegetables can be planted in the spring that will mature in the summer like tomatoes, peppers, etc. Otherwise, cool weather fruits and vegetables with short growing seasons are recommended.
Chef demonstrations of easy preparations of fresh local produce are a great addition to the program. It encourages the youth to try fruits and vegetables prepared in new ways. Invitations to parents to attend the demonstrations can also encourage their participation in the gardening program and encourage families to try more fruits and vegetables.
The curriculum has been approved for use by food stamp (SNAP) program educators. Team teaching with a gardening partner is recommended. Trained volunteers including 4-H educators, master gardeners, retired teachers and others interested in teaching youth about nutrition and gardening can make ideal partners.
The goal of the program is to build and maintain an outside garden, but it can be easily adapted to container or greenhouse gardening if needed.
The curriculum was developed and pilot tested in the Kansas City, Mo. area. Gardening schedules and choices of plants may vary depending on the climate.
The curriculum is now available to order through MU Extension Publications.
A second-grade level Eating from the Garden curriculum is currently being pilot tested in Kansas City. This website will offer information on the new curriculum when it is completed.
- Evaluation: Pre- and post-tests for students that can be coded for confidential evaluation. Teacher and parent surveys to indicate behavior change in students and themselves.
- Schedule: Suggested schedule for implementation that can be adapted with the actual dates and climate variances. Schedule of tastings may be used to plan ahead with local farmers for their support.
- Lesson summary: List of the 13 lessons with short descriptions to use as a promotion and planning guide.
- Tasting: Each lesson includes a tasting experience of mostly fresh fruits and vegetables to encourage students to try ones they may not have had before. Choice of foods for tasting may be adapted for local produce availability.
- Review: Lessons begin with some review questions of the previous lesson to show continuity, and test student knowledge retention and use of concepts.
- Nutrition activities: Hands-on activities help demonstrate identified concepts. Lessons include optional activities that can be included if time is available. A fresh fruit or vegetable preparation is an ideal inclusion if time is permissible.
- Gardening activities: Hands-on activities help demonstrate identified concepts and promote skills in garden planning and maintenance. Outdoor gardens are the goal of these lessons, but they can be adapted to container gardens as well. Lessons may have to be rearranged because of weather conditions and school schedules. Flexibility is recommended.
- Review activities for classroom teachers: Review activities are for the classroom teacher to implement and are available for most lessons. This can help carry the gardening program further in the classroom and help reinforce concepts learned in the lessons. Additional activities can also be implemented by the classroom teacher to allow for more in-depth application of the nutrition and science concepts.
- Harvesting: Garden produce will need to be harvested when ready for picking. Lessons should be flexible to allow for variances in growth of plants. Invitations to parents can be given to attend these harvests and encourage fruit and vegetable consumption by encouraging them to take extra produce home.
- Supplies: Items that need to be obtained from an outside source should have contact information listed with it.
- Food for Growth: Introduction of program and an understanding of how the food we eat relates to plants. Students look at soil preparation, soil makeup, and garden tools and safety. Children will plant seedlings.
- Seeds We Eat: Students examine different kinds of seeds and learn what plant parts we eat in relation to fruits and vegetables. They will also learn that seeds provide nutrients for the plant and for their own health. Children will also plant seeds.
- Fight BAC: The importance of washing hands and the foods we eat. Children will also learn the importance of caring for plants and identify common weeds.
- Nutrients for Plants and You: Overview of the nutrients we need and how plants get nutrients. Students learn when plants are ready for harvest.
- MyPyramid: Children are encouraged to eat and grow foods from the five food groups. Overview of the foods we can grow in each group. They will learn about the life cycle of a plant and how seeds are created.
- Making Healthy Food Choices: Students look at portion size and eating lots of fruits and vegetables for health. They will also learn about putting the garden to bed after harvesting.
- Fruits and Veggies — More Matters: Students will learn the importance of eating a rainbow of fruits and vegetables, and amounts to include in their daily diets. Students learn about composting and decomposition.
- What’s on a Label?: Students read labels to make healthier choices. They also look at seed packet labels or an overview of why we have varieties and choosing plants to grow for food. Nutrients and characteristics in warm season and cool season plants are discussed. Students also look at rainfall for the area.
- Get Physically Active: Gardening is a form of physical activity. An overview of choosing a garden site and transplanting plants. Look at varieties of vegetables that can be planted. Students plant seeds to grow indoors to transplant outside later.
- Eat Right. Exercise. Have Fun: Students will set goals for a healthier lifestyle. Students learn about how plants get their food through photosynthesis.
- We Need A Plan: Demonstrate washing fruits and vegetables and storing them correctly. Plants need room to grow — students will learn about square-foot gardening and plant spacing.
- Consumerism: Students look at how the media influences food choices. Overview of good and bad insects, identifying insects and the role of insects in the life cycle.
- Garden Celebration: Students will learn about harvesting vegetables, and the importance of nutrients contained in produce and good for their diets.
Lessons summary (printable pdf file)
Suggested curriculum outline/timeframe (printable pdf file)
There is no fee to participate in the program. However, each group may be responsible for covering the cost of gardening and food preparation supplies.